Neither event was planned way in advance. One came from a series of texts a few days in advance. The second usually happens this time of year, but there was no real notice. (OK, there was notice, but I plain ol' forgot until G Adams said we were leaving in 20 minutes. I was supposed to bring something. Oops. Coaches are forgiving.)
My kind of gatherings. Easy, show up and laugh with some cocktails in hand.
After one year on the job with Frost, I moved downtown to work in Retail Administration. I wasn't quite sure what that meant, but I knew I needed a bus pass because I couldn't afford the gas and parking working downtown required. I didn't know a soul who worked downtown. It was the middle school cafeteria all over again -- where would I go for lunch, who would I sit with, who would I talk to? And, I didn't have any idea what banking was about and why there was a need for an administration of retail. I did know I chose a Monday to Friday job over a role that required working on Saturdays. I had my limits.
After a few weeks on the job, I found my people. Y'all. I mean. Funny. Fun. Hilarious. Sincere. Genuine. Really great people. We all worked in the giant lobby of our downtown location -- just in different corners. And, we did work. We had our jobs, but always found time to chat. I think there were times we stood in the middle of the hallway by the elevator bays to catch up and laugh.
Friday night, we had one of our too-rare gatherings. We started at 6 p.m. and went until about 10 p.m. Laughed the entire time. My cheeks hurt. I was reminded of the countless nicknames bestowed on so many co-workers by one of my friends. (George Washington, Curly Fries and Ficus are among the best of them.) I heard the re-telling of familiar stories by another. We talked about transition lenses, how to handle insurance claims and our next gathering requiring Tarka. And, we laughed.
While we didn't discuss a name for our group, I think we need one. Maybe The Lobbyists? We all have much different jobs now -- two of my friends are practically running the bank now and three others have moved to other companies -- but we all have those stories that bring us back to the lobby. I mean, I can never, ever forget the polka dot dress.
Yes, we really dressed up back then. The dress code was strict. Skirt suits with jackets and hose. We shopped at Solo Serve across the street from the bank. We shopped at Stein Mart and Marshalls from the clearance rack. I remember when we got fancy and started shopping at Ann Taylor and bought our Nine West shoes. Before our Friday night gathering, I ran into Nordstrom Rack -- still looking for a deal, but a bit of a different kind of store than Solo Serve. I was looking for raw-edge hem jeans and denim shorts. I should be going to a thrift store to cut off jeans, but I thought I could find some at the store. For $60? Yeah, denim shorts for $60. Uh, no. I mean I'll pay $60 for lots of things that some would consider ridiculous, but not denim shorts. They fit really well, but I just couldn't do it. I couldn't find jeans and I'm really needing a couple of pairs.
We can wear jeans to work now if we go to our new campus. It's still work so the jeans need to be on the nicer side. I'm needing jeans because one of my go-to pair of jeans has a broken zipper. I wish it happened while I was laughing while listening to a story from one of my Lobbyist friends, but I think it was just worn out. I have it sitting out to take to the tailor, but I'm thinking he may charge me too much. So I'll find a new pair of jeans that cost more than the repair. Go with me on this math. Remember, I don't really do banking, I coach people. I don't do numbers. The friend with the polka dot dress from back in the day would say my math is just right. Our husbands don't really get it, but we do. Sunk costs is another topic we frequently visit.
I'm also on the hunt for a clear tote bag. Next year, our school district is requiring clear bags at stadiums and sporting events. I really like the Jon Hart clear stadium bag, but I cannot pay over $100 for a piece of plastic. Remember, I have my limits. It's so cute though.
Two of the coaches wives and I are in a group text that has covered topics from the very sad to very funny. We laugh when we are together, but we have also most recently cried. Our texts are randomly sent, but always on topic. We are trying to figure out our clear bag situation now. One has a brand new baby so 12x12 won't really cut it, but she's trying. I'm most distraught about not bringing in snacks and water. I mean, who is paying $3 for a bottle of water at a high school football game. Not me. Yeah, I'll pay $100 for jeans, but not $3 for water. Limits.
So one of my friends found a gingham edged tote that is cute. It's red and white -- our team colors -- and can get a monogram on it. I might get it, but then I also need a green one because Baylor will probably move to clear bags, too. Oh, that Jon Hart would be perfect for Baylor games. I just can't. Maybe with a pair of $60 denim cut-off shorts?
The clear tote bag didn't come up at my Saturday event. It should have. It was the end-of-year coaches party. I hadn't planned dinner and was not wanting to go out to eat -- saving money (maybe for the shorts!?!). Fortunately, G Adams gave the 20-minute warning and we were out the door. We enjoyed ribs and I really enjoyed this black bean salad dip thing. Sat right by it most of the night and used those clever Tostito cup-shaped chips to scoop it up all night.
It was also a chance to catch up with wives and coaches I don't see as much as I would want. Stories told and retold and lots of laughs. My two coaches wives from the group text didn't come. I missed them and would have really wanted to cover some clear tote bag ground, but the reasons were necessary and completely understandable. One with a new baby and toddler (busy) and the other with some sadness that wasn't ready for a party.
One of the coaches brought his new baby. She was precious. I don't know if she understood any of our stories, but she smiled and laughed as if she did. There are a few other families who are expecting children (or recently had babies) in this group of coaches. I remember when I was that wife with the new babies. I shared my thoughts on the girls' sleep (or lack of) pattern and my concerns of keeping up with Chris and his schedule. I remember packing my Lands' End totes full of baby supplies that I had vetted with online reviews and friend perspectives. Those totes were big and heavy. They weren't clear.
When I started in that downtown lobby 20 something years ago, I had thoughts, but was so new I didn't need to share them. When I was a new coaches wife, I had no clue the schedule and life of which I was a part. When I had the girls, I was this new mom again and was introduced to so many new products and gizmos that my thoughts seemed archaic.
I'm an old banker now. I can re-tell tales of the old days. I'm a mom of a college senior and soon to be finished with third grade and on to fourth grade girls. I can go places and sit and not chase after toddlers or bottle feed babies. I can find babysitters easily because caring for 9-year-olds is a breeze as compared to littles.
I can also always find and re-find my people. I can find good laughs and a great dip at a table. I can find time for that.
I just can't find a clear tote bag and a tailor that won't overcharge me for a broken zipper.